Wed, Oct 05, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Hardliners bemoan Miers


US Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, left, listens as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid talks during a news conference in Washington on Monday.


The White House scrambled on Monday to prevent conservative backlash over the president's choice of White House counsel Harriet Miers as his next Supreme Court nominee.

Karl Rove, the president's top political adviser, started calling influential social conservatives to reassure them about the pick even before it was announced. He called James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, over the weekend, and Richard Land, a top public policy official of the Southern Baptist Convention on Monday morning, several sources said.

Veteran conservative organizer Paul Weyrich said Ed Gillespie, the former Republican Party chairman lobbying for confirmation, called at 7:10am to tell him the news.

In each call and in a series of teleconferences throughout the day, representatives of the White House promised their conservative supporters that as White House counsel, Miers had played a central role in picking the many exemplars of conservatism among Bush's previous nominees.

The administration's efforts failed to forestall a day of protests from other social conservatives. Many say the president promised them a conservative nominee in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, which would put within their grasp a victory in the 30-year fight over court decisions about abortion, gay rights and religion in public life. Miers has made no clear statements of her legal views on any of those issues.

"Conservatives feel betrayed," Richard Viguerie, a pioneer of conservative direct mail, said. "President Bush blinked."

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